Johnny Lujack passed away on July 25, at the age of 98. As a player at Notre Dame in the 1940’s, he won the Heisman Trophy and led the Irish to three national championships. At the time of his passing he was the oldest living Heisman winner.
His ND career started in 1942 after an outstanding multi-sport high school career in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. In his senior year there, he led his team to an 8-0-1 record. Lujack was also a top notch student, he was class valedictorian and his senior class President.
In 1943 as a sophomore he came off the bench for Frank Leahy after 6 games to fill in for another Heisman winner, Angelo Bertelli. Bertelli had to leave South Bend because he had been drafted into the Marine Corps. Lujack filled in well because, ND’s ’43 team finished 9-1 and won the national championship.
After the ’43 season, Lujack was also called into military service and he spent most of the next three years as a Navy officer hunting German submarines in the English Channel.
He returned to Notre Dame after the war in 1946 and for the next two seasons with Lujack at quarterback, defensive back and kicker, the Irish never lost. They went 8-0-1 in 1946 and 9-0 in 1947. Both teams were awarded the national championship. It has been said that Lujack’s 1947 team from top to bottom was greatest accumulation of talent in college football history. 46 of the players on that team went on play professional football.
Lujack, was a consensus All-American in 1946 and repeated that feat in 1947 when he added the Heisman trophy to his list of honors.
For his ND career he threw 19 touchdown passes for 2,080 yards and he added another 438 yards rushing. Lujack was also known as a hard-hitting defensive back, and fine kicker.
While at ND Lujack showed multi-sport prowess and won monograms in four sports, football, baseball, basketball and track.
Lujack became so famous that In the summer of 1949, he starred in a radio program on ABC, The Adventures of Johnny Lujack, The show was a three day a week, 30-minute program that ran for 13 weeks
After a successful, but short career with the Chicago Bears, Lujack returned to Notre Dame as a coach in 1952, and was a contender to succeed Frank Leahy as head coach in 1954, a job that eventually went to Terry Brennan.
Lujack went into the car business after coaching and for many years owned a Chevrolet dealership in Davenport, Iowa. He also spent many years working as a color commentator on NFL and college games, working with the likes of Chris Schenkel and Jim McKay.
He frequently made appearances at Notre Dame stadium. HIs last appearance at a game was in 2019 when ND defeated New Mexico 66-14.
In 1960 Lujack was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Johnny Lujack, Heisman Trophy winner, three time National Champion and ALL-TIME IRISH HERO.